Mullet Over


Elmer the Moose

james k whiteSome historians/scientists claim that the Great Pyramid of Cheops (built approximately 4700 years ago) is the world’s largest manmade clock. Wide paved “avenues” were arranged so that the shadow of the pyramid’s peak would accurately indicate current centuries, years, seasons, days and hours. And I understand that the timepiece never requires rewinding.

All celestial stars (not the Hollywood kind) are thought to be made up of hydrogen atoms being fused (much like gigantic hydrogen bombs). When a star’s nuclear fuel is exhausted, the spent has-been usually becomes either a supernova or a white dwarf (like Sneezy or Grumpy, I guess). White dwarfs decay into neutron stars weighing an estimated 20 billion tons per cubic inch. I have no idea how one would weigh such an item. I promise no more astronomy or physics today.

Christopher Columbus did not spend his final years in destitution, as some have reported. However, he did lose much of his influence when Queen Isabella died (1504). King Ferdinand persuaded Columbus to retire to a home in Valladoid, Spain where the famous explorer passed away on May 20, 1506. Subsequent to his death, accounts become murky. Apparently most historians concur that Columbus was buried in Seville (where some claim his remains remain), but others cite evidence that his body was moved and re-buried in Santo Domingo while others believe his bones are interred somewhere in Cuba. There exists a small group of DNA experts that are attempting to align a strategy that might verify or refute some of these contentions.

Paul Bunyan had a terrier named Elmer the Moose.

I suppose most places “enjoy” eccentrics known as “local characters.” For years San Francisco boasted of a man named Joshua Norton (1819-1880) who had declared himself to be “Emperor of the United States.” Mr. Norton once possessed considerable wealth, but he lost his entire fortune by investing in Peruvian rice. It was shortly after his financial catastrophe that the newly impoverished man appeared to lose his sanity. The city populace affectionately adopted the “emperor” and many local establishments honored paper money issued by the pseudo monarch. More than 30,000 people turned out in tribute for Emperor Norton’s funeral.

Billie Jean Eshlimar was the wife of country singer Hank Williams when he died (1953). The same Billie Jean was the wife of country singer Johnny Horton when he died (1960). Well, exercise caution when considering Peruvian rice as a major investment – and have a most pleasant week.

James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at

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Old guy and a bucket of shrimp

This is a true story … It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the sun resembled a giant orange and was starting to dip into the blue ocean.

Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier. Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of shrimp. Ed walks out to the end of the pier, where it seems he almost has the world to himself. The glow of the sun is a golden bronze now.

Everybody's gone, except for a few joggers on the beach. Standing out on the end of the pier, Ed is alone with his thoughts … and his bucket of shrimp. 

Before long, however, he is no longer alone. Up in the sky a thousand white dots come screeching and squawking, winging their way toward that lanky frame standing there on the end of the pier. 

Before long, dozens of seagulls have enveloped him, their wings fluttering and flapping wildly. Ed stands there tossing shrimp to the hungry birds. As he does, if you listen closely, you can hear him say with a smile, 'Thank you. Thank you.'

In a few short minutes the bucket is empty. But Ed doesn't leave. 

He stands there lost in thought, as though transported to another time and place. 

When he finally turns around and begins to walk back toward the beach, a few of the birds hop along the pier with him until he gets to the stairs, and then they, too, fly away. And old Ed quietly makes his way down to the end of the beach and on home. 

If you were sitting there on the pier with your fishing line in the water, Ed might seem like 'a funny old duck,' as my dad used to say. Or, 'a guy who's a sandwich shy of a picnic,' as my kids might say. To onlookers, he's just another old codger, lost in his own weird world, feeding the seagulls with a bucket full of shrimp. 

To the onlooker, rituals can look either very strange or very empty. They can seem altogether unimportant … maybe even a lot of nonsense. 

Old folks often do strange things, at least in the eyes of Boomers and Busters. 

Most of them would probably write Old Ed off, down there in Florida . That's too bad. They'd do well to know him better. 

His full name: Eddie Rickenbacker. He was a famous hero back in World War II. On one of his flying missions across the Pacific, he and his seven-member crew went down.

Miraculously, all of the men survived, crawled out of their plane, and climbed into a life raft. 

Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated for days on the rough waters of the Pacific. They fought the sun. They fought sharks. Most of all, they fought hunger. By the eighth day their rations ran out. No food. No water. They were hundreds of miles from land and no one knew where they were. 

They needed a miracle. That afternoon they had a simple devotional service and prayed for a miracle. They tried to nap. Eddie leaned back and pulled his military cap over his nose.
Time dragged. All he could hear was the slap of the waves against the raft. 

Suddenly, Eddie felt something land on the top of his cap. It was a seagull! 

Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, planning his next move. With a flash of his hand and a squawk from the gull, he managed to grab it and wring its neck. He tore the feathers off, and he and his starving crew made a meal - a very slight meal for eight men - of it. Then they used the intestines for bait. With it, they caught fish, which gave them food and more bait … and the cycle continued. With that simple survival technique, they were able to endure the rigors of the sea until they were found and rescued (after 24 days at sea …).

Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, but he never forgot the sacrifice of that first life-saving seagull. And he never stopped saying, 'Thank you.' That's why almost every Friday night he would walk to the end of the pier with a bucket full of shrimp and a heart full of gratitude. 

By Max Lucado, "In The Eye of the Storm", pp..221, 225-226.

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